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Spotsylvania's next school superintendent expected to provide a seamless transition for the division
Redinger has taken a superintendent post in Washington state, but
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They described the former marathon runner as a man of integrity with a healthy sense of humor.
A father of two, he also is a good listener, a good collaborator, and fair, even when he doesn't agree with someone, said Wieland, who observed him during Redinger's cabinet-level meetings.
Board member Jim Meyer has served as acting superintendent in Spotsylvania and was quick to notice Baker's rapport with staff and his ability to interact well with residents.
"He's a team builder," Meyer said, and is ready to carry the division's instructional goals forward.
Baker spent the past year working with Redinger. During that time, he played a key role in the streamlining plan she crafted for the division and laid out this spring.
That plan cut nearly $1 million in personnel costs, eliminating one assistant superintendent slot and downgrading two others to the executive director level.
"He's a kind soul and that's a great quality to have, but when tough decisions had to be made, he didn't blink an eye," Blalock said.
"Sometimes, I think people miss how tough he is because he's so approachable."
Baker said he and Redinger share a "student-centered approach" to education and believe in reaching out to the community.
They not only want to get to know people but also be sure the schools are producing students capable of contributing in the workforce and elsewhere.
"I can't imagine doing the job any other way," Baker said in a recent interview with The Free Lance-Star.
Baker, whose career focus has been on instruction, said his goal is to see the division provide a quality education that meets the needs of students, whether they are college-bound, headed into a technical field or charting their own course.
The aim is not only to provide students solid core-course instruction, but also to ensure they are allowed to broaden their horizons in areas such as the arts and athletics.
He also said he hopes to encourage more students to choose to challenge themselves in the toughest curriculums such as the Commonwealth Governor's School, Advanced Placement courses and dual-enrollment classes.
Part of the challenge, Baker said, is helping students see school as "relevant" to their lives.
With that in mind, one of his first goals is to form a business advisory council to help the division stay abreast of the needs of local companies.